Marija Zidar from Slovenia won the Sofia DocuMental Award for Best Female Directo

Marija Zidar (Slovenia) won the Sofia DocuMental Award for Best Female Director for her film Reconciliation. A 3-member international jury consisting of Velislava Popova, editor-in-chief of Dnevnik.bg, Wolfgang Nopler, Austrian producer and Tanya Khorilchuk, camerawoman from Belarus, chose the winner among 9 directors of modern, daring films included in the competition program. Reconciliation tells the story of a 18-year-old girl killed in a brutal family feud in the Albanian mountains. The father, in his pain, is under pressure from a local clergyman and chairman of a non-governmental organization not only to forgive the killer and his family as a Christian, but also to reconcile with them. The jury was impressed by the director's ability to say so much in so few words, mostly thanks to her fine, delicate visual style. "In a male-dominated society, the female character speaks clearly through her silence, and in the end, the woman's word is the last word in history," said Knoepfler, the jury's decision.

Marija Zidar said that she decided to switch from journalism to documentary because the news became shorter and flatter and "stories cannot be told in depth." She thanked the festival and personally its director Martichka Bozhilova for encouraging young women in documentary cinema and said that she was 27 when the first documentary made by a woman was released in Slovenia. Zidar herself started "Reconciliation" at 37 and after 7 years of research and hard work today we watch the result and hear her female voice in this story.


A statuette and a cash prize of BGN 3,000, provided by the Bulgarian Women's Fund were presented by its executive director Nadezhda Dermendzhieva. Ms. Dermendzhieva noted that women are not properly present in the visual arts in Bulgaria or around the world. This deprives art of their truth, point of view and emotionality. Therefore, every creative act of a woman must be supported. "We believe in the potential of art to change boundaries, destinies, lives," she concluded.

Sofia DocuMental is organized by the Balkan Documentary Center, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Czech Center and is the only festival in Bulgaria with a focus on human rights. Thorsten Geisler, director of the office of Konrad Adenauer in Bulgaria, stressed that there are many places in the world where human rights are drastically trampled on and this must be talked about, raising awareness and documentary cinema is one of the means. The Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Bulgaria, Mr. Lukaš Kaucký, wished the festival to attract, nurture and expand its audience in the coming years with a clear civil conscience, because “being part of civil society does not mean voting once every 4 years. You have to be active every day and hold politicians accountable for what they do. "